Comic Book Reviews for This Week: 7/1/2020

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Welcome to this week in comic book reviews! The staff have come together to read and review nearly everything that released today. It isn't totally comprehensive, but it includes just about everything from DC and Marvel with the important books from the likes of Image, Boom, IDW, Dynamite, and more.

The review blurbs you'll find contained herein are typically supplemented in part by longform individual reviews for significant issues. This week that includes All-America Comix #1 and The Goddamned: The Virgin Brides #1.

Also, in case you were curious, our ratings are simple: we give a whole number out of five; that's it! If you'd like to check out our previous reviews, they are all available here.

And with that, on to the reviews -- which are listed in alphabetical order, but first by DC, Marvel, and the rest of the publishers.

ALL-AMERICA COMIX #1

[READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE]

All-America Comix #1 is an admirable, but somewhat-baffling read, which tries to return to a similar territory as Marvel's America Chavez under the Image Comics brand. Maybe it's the fact that the project has been in the works for four years, during which America Chavez has evolved into a cult character, but the issue largely comes across as something seeking to be preserved in amber. The script and art fluctuate between being impactful and awkward, resulting in an execution that ultimately doesn't break as much creative ground as it intends. Ultimately, All-America Comix #1 feels like a generic version of your favorite snack food—it's enjoyable, and it gets the job done at the moment, but you're ultimately left wanting more of the real thing. -- Jenna Anderson

Rating: 3 out of 5

BILLIONAIRE ISLAND #2

It's been a long wait for Billionaire Island #2 thanks to COVID-19, but the wait was certainly worth it. Where the first issue did the heavy lifting of setting up the two stories running parallel in the series and leaned hard into the disturbingly on-point satire, this second issue wastes zero time dropping readers into the action of things. There's still a lot to chew on in terms of social commentary about the super rich and how little they actually care about anyone but themselves, but the story really comes together around the "normal" people in the issue who are exploiting the weakness of those with power and doing it in a way that is full of action and intrigue. From cover to cover the issue is great writing and great art and it's overall a great read. -- Nicole Drum

Rating: 5 out of 5

THE BOYS: DEAR BECKY #2

The first issue of Dear Becky offered an inviting perspective for returning readers as Hughie grappled with his mentor’s legacy and building a better life to call his own. Yet the follow up issue offers little to build upon that foundation. There are further flashbacks, additional details about Hughie’s current life, and plenty of Ennis and Robertson’s patented crude humor, but it all feels directionless on the page. The only moments that stand our are those in which characters essentially speak to the reader about the themes of addiction and trauma. In the meanwhile, multiple pages are devoted to an absurd vicar incapable of summoning a single chuckle. Dear Becky still offers the technical merits that made The Boys a hit, but fails to confirm that this epilogue is necessary. If there’s a story still to be told with these characters, then it isn’t apparent in these pages. -- Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #15

BOOM! Studios' Buffy the Vampire Slayer has emerged from the Hellmouth a better series than it was going in. Without any event to race towards, writer Jordie Bellaire can take more time recreating the character-centric tone of the television series. And yet, the series doesn't feel like a throwback. By changing the cast and looking at some of the questionable decisions from the original series, Bellaire is building a better Buffy. With this issue, she appears to be treading familiar ground at first until one of the characters questions the premise. Bachs' art isn't the strongest we've seen on the series, but the issue is still keeping the series headed in exciting directions. -- Jamie Lovett

Rating: 3 out of 5

GHOSTBUSTERS: YEAR ONE #4

Dry humor isn’t always easy to pull off in the written word even artwork’s there to translate the intent, but Egon’s demeanor and delivery come across perfectly in the fourth issue of Ghostbusters: Year One. The story’s version of the all-business Ghostbuster is able to deliver a more grounded account of the team’s past exploits compared to the other and was the best possible choice to be present in the story’s end that sets up what’s to come later. He’s basically only got one expression throughout the chapter, but it’s one that suits him well. -- Tanner Dedmon

Rating: 4 out of 5

THE GODDAMNED: THE VIRGIN BRIDES #1

[READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE]

The debut issue of The Goddamned: The Virgin Brides establishes itself as patriarchal exploitation of religious texts akin to the dystopic The Handmaid's Tale while the landscape and imagery feel evocative of the more recent Midsommar, while also establishing the potential to critique or current culture of misogyny in fascinating ways, in addition to serving as an unsettling piece of escapism. -- Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 4 out of 5

HAWKEYE: FREEFALL #6

Admittedly new to Hawkeye: Freefall, I didn't expect to like it. It felt like, on the surface, just some riff of DC's Green Arrow which is not how I have ever really truly seen Hawkeye as a character. And, to be sure, there are definitely elements of that in Hawkeye: Freefall #6, but the issue is somehow more. The issue is gritty and drives home the real and painful consequences of his crusade against The Hood as well as reveals just how dirty Hawkeye is willing to get. There's something dark, difficult, and interestingly hopeful in the issue that is at the same time utterly relentless with some horrific turns, startling moments, and ultimately a victory that feels almost hollow. It's a brilliant and somewhat unexpected way to end a run, and it's grimly perfect. Top notch from cover to cover. -- Nicole Drum

Rating: 5 out of 5

I CAN SELL YOU A BODY #4

Several of the key moments in this climax are offered without impact or even the context required to appreciate their significance. A character who otherwise does not appear on a page is offered only in silhouette at a critical juncture. It’s poor comics storytelling and it radiates from almost every page in I Can Sell You a Body. Space, design, and details are poorly utilized and make parsing this issue a slog. The narrative these panels struggle to string together ensures it’s an unrewarding experience with “humor” that relies upon uncreative cursing, mildly-offensive accents, and multiple references to soiling oneself that lost most of their charm after second grade. The appearance of a demon and resolution of the story’s romance are as unearned and ill-considered as most other parts of a pitch that rarely reads like a finished product; if there was a spark of a good idea here, it was extinguished in all four issues of the telling. -- Chase Magnett

Rating: 1 out of 5

KILLING RED SONJA #2

Two issues in and Killing Red Sonja still feels like a chore. The book is essentially the build to one reoccurring joke — a child emperor in way over his head sets out on a journey to try and kill Sonja, failing miserably ever time. By the end of the second issue he’s actually in on the joke, but it’s still a slog to care about any of these characters minus the talking boar (because who doesn’t love that?). -- Connor Casey

Rating: 2 out of 5

KING OF NOWHERE #3

King of Nowhere takes a step back and reminds the reader that the anthropomorphic creatures and half-humans of the book are people too, each with their own lives and issues. It's a nice little touch, designed to humanize its characters after several were murdered with a nail gun the previous issue by the unknown person hunting Denis. I'm still struggling as to what this book is supposed to be - a slice of life, a murder thriller, or just a weird comic about a weird loser winding up in the strangest place on earth—but I'll keep reading next month. -- Christian Hoffer

Rating: 3 out of 5

MARVEL'S SPIDER-MAN: THE BLACK CAT STRIKES #4

As has been the case throughout this miniseries, the weakest parts of Spider-Man: The Black Cat Strikes is when the book is simply recapping events of the game. And not even well-drawn action panels can save Hammerhead from being a lousy villain. But then the book keeps going a bit past the original story and winds up delivering a better finale than the DLC. If you’re a fan of the game this series is definitely worth reading as it fills in some of the cracks in an otherwise rich story. -- Connor Casey

Rating: 4 out of 5

NAILBITER RETURNS #2

Alice's discovery that her serial-killer father is alive understandably comes with some conflicted emotions, forcing her to reunite with a part of her she thought was long gone. Not only does this pose an emotional conflict, but also puts her in the path of danger as some of his biggest fans are looking to connect with him in any way possible. Part of what made the debut issue of this sequel series so compelling is that you didn't need much knowledge about its predecessor to get caught up on the state of things, with this issue helping to fill the gaps on how the notorious Nailbiter could still be alive. In that regard, the narrative lulls a bit given the amount of exposition being delivered, but it still manages to keep the reader engaged with a number of gruesome panels depicting heinous crimes. Hopefully, with the exposition beats out of the way, the next issue can more effectively pave its own path forward. -- Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 3 out of 5

OLYMPIA #5

Olympia reads as minimal effort applied to obvious references and trite sentimentality. Its pages have been unpleasant to read from the start and that has never been more obvious than in this final chapter. Splash panels and spreads offer so little detail that it appears layouts were blown up and printed without being finished. Each turning point in the story is delivered without impact as an entire page is devoted to a hand with the qualities of a five-minute sketch. This approach might be tolerable in an indie slice-of-life pamphlet, but alternates between exhausting and infuriating when applied to massive armies and extensive action sequences. The characters and their resolutions are as two-dimensional and bland as their depictions. Gods speak in cliches that make Stan Lee seem a poet, and the humans are so superficial in their sentiments as to evoke a failed Turing Test. If there was an ounce of originality or charm in this issue, it might be worth considering the bizarre father-son connection applied to creators and superheroes, but like everything in Olympia it’s too shallow to merit more than being forgotten. -- Chase Magnett

Rating: 1 out of 5

ON THE STUMP #3

Three issues in and On The Stump is still just as shocking as the two issues before. Though the story continues to be held together rather tight, it looks some focus here as it starts to go off the rails—though that may be entirely by design. This title is a complete mess, but I mean that in the best way possible—politics are just one big clusterf--k and this book is a perfect portrait of Capitol Hill. Though, I do have to say, hopefully the blood sacrifices and assassin-fueled orgies aren't events that actively happen in real life. -- Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 4 out of 5

THE PLOT #5

The second half of The Plot brings readers back to the very beginning of this haunted house and the gothic-infused community surrounding it in the earliest days of colonial America. It’s an effective framing device that fills the bog with a powerful sense of history and literal centuries of suffering. Vitus Blaine’s tale offers a potent descent into madness, reflecting visions and themes familiar to readers from the present day. His literal descent offers some of the most compellingly dark pages from the series thus far. It also effortlessly returns readers to where the first half of the story was left, establishing a tone of escalating terror in the final page. The Plot remains one of the most intriguing and well-adorned horror comics to emerge in the past several years and this chapter of prologue sets expectations high for the coming climax. -- Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

PROTECTOR #4

Protector continues to deliver on everything that has made the series so promising from its very debut—crumbling technology, tribal societies in strife, and tensions between the collapse of an old world and construction of something new are thoroughly considered and made into an engaging narrative. Yet one of the most striking elements of Protector #4 are the depictions of a farflung, future ecology. Flora and fauna transformed by time and crises frame the connection between this imagined dystopia and our own world, and they fill the experience with meaning. Even in the midst of a revolt and bloodshed, quiet sequences emphasizing inset panels of wildlife excel at building the world around specific events, filling those events with increased meaning as well. In spite of the gore, Protector #4 is a beautiful issue of comics and a testament to the depth of this outstanding new Image Comics series, even as it prepares to conclude. -- Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

RAVENCROFT #5

While Ravencroft started out as a pretty weak mini-series following up the "Absolute Carnage" event, the book wound up being a ton of fun by issue #5. We get see more of Misty Knight and The Punisher teaming up to plow their way through a horde of vampires, Man-Wolf gets to wrap up his character arc and a last-minute reveal shows how this series will wind up playing a much bigger role down the road for Venom and Spider-Man. This is definitely a fun read. -- Connor Casey

Rating: 4 out of 5

REAVER #9

Reaver #9 comes to light this week with a story that will leave your stomach churning. After learning about his friend's dour fate, Breaker is left defeated and capture along with his former ally. While the pacing of this issue is great, the characterization built for Breaker falls apart in this release as he kills, regrets, and kills again. His final line will have fans balking, but it seems there may be more to Breaker's decision than meets the eye. -- Megan Peters

Rating: 2 out of 5

RONIN ISLAND #12

Ronin Island delivers a swift and touching finale that proves it place atop BOOM's current lineup. The final issue follows Hana and Kenichi as they defend their home and learn the meaning of sacrifice. With a crazed shogun wantonly shedding the blood of those he follows, this Ronin Island #12 has heart-stopping action that will make your gut clench. The final page brings this one-of-a-kind story to a weighty end that will have you begging for a follow up. -- Megan Peters

Rating: 5 out of 5

STAR #5

It’s a shame that this last issue of Star is only coming out in digital, as it provides a heart-racing conclusion to one of Marvel’s latest miniseries. This issue sees Ripley Ryan’s motivations put to the test, as her powers become a target for both Carol Danvers and the Black Order. What unfolds from there might not be what fans were expecting, but Kelly Thompson uses the economy of storytelling in this issue to its utmost advantage. The art from Javier Pina and Filipe Andrade isn’t always the most consistent, but those shifts in tones almost work in the series' favor. Fans will hopefully be satisfied with how this miniseries wraps up—and what it means for Ripley's future in the Marvel universe. -- Jenna Anderson


Rating: 3 out of 5

STAR TREK: YEAR FIVE #12

The first "season" of Star Trek: Year Five has been stellar. Stories that play out like updated episodes of The Original Series, great artwork, and a spotlight on characters under-served by the television series make it a fantastic read for Star Trek fans. This twelfth issue wraps up the mystery of who kills Captain Kirk, seeded in the first issue. While the script is strong, it's hampered by having multiple artists juggling art duties. None of them are capable of matching the dramatic flare Stephen Thompson brought to the first issue (this issue repurposed one of those pages, forcing the disparity into plain view). This issue isn't the series' best, but then it has been an excellent series. -- Jamie Lovett

Rating: 3 out of 5

VAMPIRELLA #10

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Vampirella #10 offers some excellent moments, even in an interstitial issue that doesn’t offer much direction for the series moving forward. A long conversation with a priest frames past actions and trauma and—much like the therapist introduced in this new volume—seems to stand in for Priest’s own thoughts. The meditations on redemption and the place of outsiders are interesting, but seem to float outside of the story so far. Part of that disconnect stems from the fractured timeline and a lack of clarity as to when each moment occurs (only made worse by a long delay between issues). The action sequences are solid, even when characters appear flat on the page due to some nasty twists. There’s plenty of thought being put into Vampirella and the character has been reimagined with substantial depth, leaving plenty for readers to anticipate if the series is able to combine its many components into a coherent direction. -- Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5